A leap year

2020 is a year that leapt into the future at a time when the future was rushing towards us. The pandemic caused everyone to take a leap into the unknown to avoid terrible consequences.

Bureaucracy has been disemboweled, opposition politics have waned, instant communications have proved their worth, snap decision-making and civic obedience have became the norm.

All of a sudden, many employers have discovered they don’t need offices and they can trust employees. Teachers have enabled remote learning in numbers. The hidden dangers of cheap, off shore manufacture have been uncovered.

What are the implications?

The cruise liner industry will need to re-tool: perhaps they could be used as prisons like the sheer hulks of old. The universal basic income has suddenly attained reality. The economic imperialism of China has been unmasked.

First world countries are going to have to learn how to manufacture without cheap labour, third world countries will have to learn to establish their own industries without First World money..

The possibility of direct communication and mandating of representatives could eradicate the roadblocks and pork barrels of party combinations

Hopefully, the opportunity is taken to accelerate the new clean, renewable energy options and eliminate fossil fuel machinery, promote secure digital transactions with blockchain and return our elderly to our homes.

The industrial revolution we are experiencing will flower out of the Covid recession. Many people will lose jobs and have to transition to new careers.

We have a golden opportunity to strengthen the fabric of our society.

Those people expectorated from their careers by the new technological advances can stay at home and look after their elders and keep a closer eye on their children, instead of placing them in homes and child care.

The death traps we have designed to contain our inconvenient elderly relatives should be abolished. Attention also needs to be paid on the effects on our children of child care from babyhood.

Forward looking government will happily pay in-home carers instead of fund old age homes and child care centres.

So we have a real chance to re-build our environment and our families – let’s not misstep the leap.

Do white lives matter?

Have you heard of Senekal in the Orange Free State?

A young farm manager in the district was beaten to death and his body was hoisted on a pole in his fields by his murderers, who were stock thieves.

“… he was tortured to death. All his bones were broken. He was cremated. He was not even buried”

Over a thousand local farmers, gathered outside the Magistrates Court where the alleged murderers were to appear after arrest. The intent was to register strong protest, but things got out of hand. A Police official was manhandled, shots were fired and a Police vehicle was toppled and torched. Ho hum …. just another of many similar incidents in the world today..?

One slightly different aspect was that the farmers were all white people and the alleged criminals, Police and other officials were nearly all black people.

Many white farmers have been murdered in South Africa leading to claims that it is a politically targeted genocide. This is a topic kept burning and aggravated by the white right wing.

For years white farmers have said that they are under siege, being killed on their properties – seemingly without much state intervention.

The government’s response has been that crime finds its way into everyone’s home (which is true). And that they are doing what they can to fight it ( but farmers keep getting murdered).

Statistics suggest that the majority of victims of crime are black. Black people are the majority and are disproportionately exposed to some of the factors that fuel crime – inequality, poverty and unemployment [1]. Unemployment is estimated to be over 42% (Bloomberg).

Most large farms in South Africa are owned by white farmers. They often have large homesteads and numerous employees. The homesteads are remote and the trappings of apparent wealth must be tempting to the destitute, desperate and criminal.

South Africa is a tale of two countries and it does not take much for problems to become tribalised. It is a sign of the tensions that are always simmering just beneath the surface.[2]

After all, apartheid was the crucible where identity politics activism gained legitimacy and momentum.

Is this gruesome murder not another George Floyd type moment? A minority group claiming prolonged targeting and victimisation by an oppressive majority.

Will we see the BLM and Antifa activists come out to join the next protest – maybe they will mimic Seattle and take over the city centre of Bloemfontein?

Somehow I doubt it – in the twisted rationale of the Identity politics creed, white is wrong and black is always the victim….

So real outrage notwithstanding, the fact that it is expressed solely by whites undermines the legitimacy of the protest and presents a threat to the delicate balance in race relations and government’s ability to balance conflicting demands.

Alarmingly, these protestors expressing their genuine outrage and fears are likely to be leveraged by those on both extremes of the political spectrum seeking confrontation, which will serve their political interests.

Sadly it is not the virtuous outrage and exercise of democratic protest that will be seen, but the similarities to white lynch mobs of the Deep South US in the last century and the armed anti BLM protestors more recently…

The South African Police have never been known for their skill and subtlety in controlling mass demonstrations as Sharpeville and Marikana amply demonstrate.

We must brace ourselves for tragedy.

If the next protest included black farmers and black employees it would not be discounted as a protest of a previously privileged class bewailing discomforts long suffered by most of the rest of the population.

It is past time that all South Africans realised that they are a community, not parts of a community, each with different views of history.

Instead of looking back in anger, look forward with resolve.

I’ll say it again! All lives matter!


[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-54441374

[2] Ibid

Bubbles and veg

 I will confess it now – I am beginning to feel guilty about eating meat. My daughter has become a vegetarian over the last few years, for taste not ideological reasons. My guilt arises from ideological, specifically environmental reasons. I still love eating meat except for the inner organs like liver and tripe.

I guess my brothers and most of my African friends will stop reading this in disgust….

One Wednesday MC offered to make lunch for me – I rarely refuse such offers and sat down to a vegetarian meal, feeling slightly challenged. To give me a little impetus in order to meet this challenge without flinching, I cracked a bottle of bubbly after a pre-prandial lager.

With wide-eyes and a faint air of forlorn hope, she presented a very daunting veggie looking meal – I felt my teeth growing longer by the minute!

Couscous with spiced eggplant and lemony yoghurthow greenie, hippy can you get? I girded my loins with a second glass of fizz and tried to smile as I had my first tentative nibble …. Sapristi!! It was bloody marvellous!!

I finished all there was and licked my plate clean.

Somewhere in my post prandial euphoria I was dared to eat one vegetarian meal a week. I accepted with the boast that I would cook the next one and the Wednesday Lunch Club came into being. We present a meal alternately.

Herself declined to be drawn in – she has had some experience of my culinary skills. Some of my faithful blog followers may recall this culinary foray: https://sillysocksonfriday.com/2017/02/17/fishcakes/

I have not been known to avoid any opportunity to indulge my self – so my vegetarian offering was a seafood paella, cooked on the braai. If I say so myself it was pretty toothsome – my guest agreed, although this may have something to do with the bottle of her fav strawberry fizz.

Week 3 was cunningly designed by MC to indulge my longstanding craving for a burger: Lentil-Chickpea Veggie Burgers with Avocado Green Harissa

Bubbles were now mandatory and afternoon appointments were cancelled.

On Week 4, I indulged a hankering to try a platter of Tomato slices with Mozzarella Cheese and a Balsamic Vinegar dressing. Not bad …

If my brothers are still reading their eyes will be bulging.

MC was feeling the pressure, so she tried to sway me by unorthodox tactics in week 5. Veggie Wraps: Pumpkin, rocket, beetroot, capsicum, feta (plus marinated beef strips for some). One has to keep an eye on these vegetarians – they will go to extraordinary lengths to further their cause. We committed to become purists – no meat henceforth. Sheer love kept me from declining the offering, which was yummy.

I felt that a strong response was called for in week 6 and I was feeling nostalgic, so went for a double whammy: Pasta salad with peanut butter sauce  followed by  tapioca pudding with coconut and mango. (I couldn’t source sago – beloved frogs eggs of childhood). MC was highly complimentary

Week 7 was different: Miso soup, Edamame, Okonomiyaki (vegetable pancake) with Soba noodle salad and light cheesecake topped with fresh strawberries. Ah so desu ka! Domo arigato! おいしい Well done MC!

Week 8 was today and I fretted all week. Fortunately, Herself was in charge of the Commissariat and found all the ingredients for Green pesto minestrone soup followed by gingered Junket (more nostalgia). Declared to be even better than my last effort.

I freely confess that I have enjoyed every one of these meals and I now spend more time reading vegetarian recipes than following Donald Trump in the news!!

Wednesday has become a gleaming beacon day – the food and the company are excellent. Time with my daughter is gold.

I urge you all to consider vegetarianism … in moderation, perhaps.

Should you care for the recipes I am quite happy to include them in my next publication which will be an omnibus of short stories, rants, poems and recipes from sillysocksonfriday – I bet you can’t wait, y’all!

The Social Dilemma

 Be afraid, be very afraid!

I suspect some of you think I am a bit of a drama queen or a wolf-crier. Maybe both – but I urge you to watch The Social Dilemma, it is currently on Netflix.

Especially if you have children.

This documentary presents the views of a number of people who were intricately involved in designing Facebook, Twitter, Google, Pinterest and other mainstream social media.

Reviewers have said this film is the “single most lucid, succinct, and profoundly terrifying analysis of social media ever created”

“(it) carefully details the skyrocketing levels of depression among children and teenagers; the flat-earthers and white supremacists; the genocide in Myanmar; the Covid misinformation; [and] the imperilling of objective truth and social disintegration”.

Harvard University professor Shoshana Zuboff speaks quite clearly about the profit -making orientation of digital companies like Google and Amazon (which) represent a new form of capitalist accumulation that she calls “surveillance capitalism

 Surveillance Capitalism “unilaterally claims human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioural data [which] are declared as a proprietary behavioural surplus, fed into advanced manufacturing processes known as ‘machine intelligence’, and fabricated into prediction products that anticipate what you will do now, soon, and later.”

These new capitalist products “are traded in a new kind of marketplace – behavioural futures markets.

Through the lens of surveillance capitalism’s economic and social imperatives, she lists many issues that plague contemporary society including:

  • the assault on privacy and the so-called ‘privacy paradox’,
  • behavioral targeting
  • fake news
  • ubiquitous tracking
  • legislative and regulatory failure
  • algorithmic governance
  • social media addiction
  •  abrogation of human rights
  • democratic destabilization, and more are reinterpreted and explained

As I said: be afraid….

Blog Admin

Just a little heads up to those of you that only use a phone to access my blogs:

If you double click the blue title of the blog – you will be able to read the fully illustrated blog on my web page

and leave comments

and read earlier blogs

and read my poetry page …

I hope that is an exciting tip!

Cancel Culture Culture

The National Library of New Zealand recently decided to dispose of 600 000 books including prized first editions of English literature classics  to make way for the growing New Zealand, Maori and Pacific collection.1

This may be a budget thing: ’a not enough space’ type of argument but I smell cancel culture and the identity politics creed that has been woodworming academica and bureaucracy for some years now.

The rationale that has become fashionable since black lives now matter, is that policies, laws and icons that stem from the past must be eradicated. This is because the colonists, rulers, inventors and developers of the most successful technological societies in modern history were almost exclusively European males; now invalidated by the lack of indigenous participation.

It is propounded that the general oppression and inability of most people of colour from Africa and the Pacific to get rich, get educated and successfully contribute to society is directly attributable to and caused by these white despots.

Hence the re-writing of history and the toppling of statues, renaming of roads and places with European names.

So how should we paint our past for future reference?

I know, let’s name places and roads and raise statues to historically famous and clever African and Pacifica people of colour!

We will need to look at historical records of these peoples. Oh! So we can only go back about 180 years which is about when the colonial oppressors taught these peoples how to write. They are now able to tell us how we misspelt the names of people and places, isn’t that nice?

Well, I am sure we can rely on their oral history…

Are there any great inventions of these societies? Well, since the Pyramids there’s been …maybe the iklwa, boomerang, trench warfare, shrunken heads and an app for hair inventions?

How about great leaders? Nelson Mandela of course, Hone Heke, the great Maori warchief, Shaka Zulu (a tad despotic, perhaps?), Nasser, Gaddafi, Nkrumah, Mobutu, Mugabe, Idi Amin (these two are a bit like Shaka?) – mind you, it’s likely the colonial oppressors oppressed leaders, that’s possibly why there are so few.

Whatever?! Just take a knee people, and bow to the inevitable, because otherwise you’ll be labelled a racist, misogynist, gay bashing, petal plucking redneck. Don’t worry about most of history – it is no longer relevant.

Wikipedia says: The burning of books has a long history as a tool that has been wielded … to suppress dissenting or heretical views that are believed to pose a threat to the prevailing order…(and) can become a significant component of cultural genocide.

Iconoclasm is a very basic and powerful political tool which demonstrates radical defiance of the commonly held norms of society – it is a challenge to the middle of the road look awayers and I-say-nothingers.

Note to self: stop shooting yourself in the foot!

1The Guardian, 11 September 2020

Goodwill in bedlam

Herself and I had the honour recently to be invited to the Citizenship Ceremony of dear friends.

There is rare opportunity for the amorphous body of the State to impress upon its subjects the import and high value of being a citizen.

Australia like most former colonies has suppressed admiration for the pomp and ceremony practised by the colonial overlords of former years, but hides it under a veneer of mateship. State ceremonies should therefore be serious and memorable with an acceptable ritual, but men can wear shorts and women slacks and sandals.

So, on Australia Citizenship Day, as befits serious occasions, we arrived early at the Community Leisure Centre (that could have been a clue), to be greeted by a melee of smart fellow guests and citizens-to-be, under direction of slightly flustered bureaucrats, one of whom was a long serving town councillor.

It appears that nobody had told the local Kung-fu Klub that they could not have the hall for their practice that night and martial arts were in process. The sensei had growled at suggestions by the Councillor that a ceremony of State should have precedence  – he explained to us in  a whisper “they are very big men!”

So we had to make a plan as we were told Australians had always done – set up in a smaller hall and split the function into 2 sessions to abide by the Covid space limit of 35 people.

This was also under the faint anxiety induced by the need to ensure Safe Coronavirus Hygiene was observed and necessary tracking details were recorded as well as issue of all important documents for the Citizens- to- be.

There were not enough chairs to allow for all to be seated so attendees spread around the walls, all decorously looking solemn and anxiously trying to observe Covid safe distancing.

I was quite comfortable on the kitchen sink. When every seat was taken and safe spaces were diminishing dangerously, an explanation and apology was made by the Councillor who kept his cool, even as the walls were closing in…

As is fitting the elders of the land were acknowledged and the event proceeded.

The certificates were given out with only a minor confusion of some Singhs, and the two Oaths of Affirmation (a separate one for non-Believers) were completed with everyone invited to join in.

The old Councillor was so relieved that he despatched us all to tea and cake in the Karate Hall, only to be met with an outcry – we haven’t sung the Anthem!

Everyone was remarkably calm and accepting of this bureaucratic balls-up of a ceremony, waiting patiently for their certificate and posing sweetly for a photo with the old Councillor, clutching their gift of a spindly indigenous seedling and a Labor Party holdall.

The Guest of Honour, a state MP who made an inaudible speech, was soon forgotten and slunk away into a corner.

Everyone sung the Anthem with serious demeanour and then we were released.

It was an interesting batch of new citizens, mostly European but with some Filipinos, Middle Easterners, Chinese and Indians – all on their best behaviour to avoid losing the prize at the slightly vague finishing line.

They weren’t yet Australian enough to barrack at the bureaucrats for stuffing up what should be a smooth, sedate ritual reinforcing the competence and effectiveness of a modern State.

People seemed genuinely happy if somewhat bemused by the awkward shambles – it was almost heart-warming and definitely memorable in an unintended way.

Am I grateful?

Some people will resist the powerful temptation to read another of my almost irresistible musings. I am eternally grateful to those who feed my ego by reading and indicating their appreciation or outrage (comme ci, comme ça, c’est la guerre!)

For some of us, gratitude just doesn’t come easy. It is an emotion, so is frequently at odds with intellect. Beware the emotional vampire!

One of the reasons for resisting gratefulness is genetic make-up, another is brain size or it may be our personality. I suppose we shouldn’t forget nurture either! Some people are taught pride and learn to perceive kindnesses as charity, which is not acceptable to the proud! … and often irritates the charitable, no doubt!

Nevertheless, intellect, being more modern, considered and cautious can coax gratitude out of its shell, to bloom and brighten one’s life and the lives of their nearest and dearest.

Research has shown that making conscious efforts to count one’s blessings is therapeutic: grateful people are indeed less likely to have mental health problems like depression.

Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy — we will always want to have something else or something more (Br. David Steindl-Rast). He also believes that the human response of gratitude is a part of the religious worldview and is essential to all human life.

According to Cicero “Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all others.”

I get all this and I dig it. We don’t know how lucky we are!

I wrote this on my birthday a couple of years ago: https://sillysocksonfriday.com/2018/11/09/introibo-ad-altare-dei/

The revolution has started

I am not without hope.

At the very start of the global depression when the outlook for continued prosperity and peace is looking bleak, I believe that there are opportunities for change.

It is opportune that the depression has coincided with a global plague which has enabled most governments to revert to more directive, prophylactic action anticipating the future and persisting in tough policy moves ignoring the squeals of libertarians and the newly empowered.

We are coincidentally where the 3rd Industrial Revolution (3IR) is beginning to have impact. Some even call it the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0).

I have been reading and listening to Jeremy Rifkin on the above. This guy advises the European Union and China on a smart green 3IR economy.

Combined with the communications infrastructure necessary to connect all of humanity to these breakthroughs, the result is the potential for a truly global society.

If you are concerned about what may happen in future and how it can be brought about, watch Rifkin on youtube – I found him rivetting and easy to understand.

 The technological revolution rewrites the material conditions of human existence and can reshape culture. It can play a role as a trigger of a chain of various and unpredictable changes

What distinguishes a technological revolution from a random collection of technology systems and justifies conceptualizing it as a revolution are two basic features:

1. The strong interconnectedness and interdependence of the participating systems in their technologies and markets.

2. The capacity to transform profoundly the rest of the economy (and eventually society).

Thoughts in Spring

On my early morning walk with Lulu, I marked the signs of Spring even tho’ its still July. The different Mimosa blooms with soft anisescent, birdsong and aerial acrobatics. Last years’ pukekos chasing each other with high pitch squeals, much as all young children do.

I noticed that one young female (I assume) was not running as fast or squealing as desperately as usual. But as he came closer, the young male chasing seemed a bit nonplussed and not sure what to do … He chickened out, pretending he had seen a morsel and sauntering off in a different direction. To my amusement the little fugitive looked flummoxed and then indignant.

I thought how much like the human species too. How often does it happen that young females lure young males into a chase, squeaking and flapping to gain attention? It frequently achieves results.

But the stratagem carries some risk: some expenditure of reputation is made in this siren behaviour; other females may join in and lure away the intended target, others may be critical about the behaviour indulged in.

 Sometimes the desired male lacks the confidence to make a final commitment, leaving a distinctly discomforted female. Sometimes the wrong males chase, which results in rejections which leaves all discomforted. Sometimes it ends in aggression and tears.

Courtship rituals are delicate and full of subtlety and nuance, which suit the female species. However, males tend to switch to overdrive at the first whiff of powder. The shy sheer away but the bold take some deterring, especially the powerful and arrogant.

Nah! I am not going to go there.

What really is bugging me is that the whole BLM palaver like the #Metoo histrionics, is digging up history to define the rectitude of their causes. Watch for new minorities appearing with a litany of historical grievances: “Participants who identified as LGBTQI+, Māori, Pacific, or having a disability were more likely to report feeling unsafe within their bubbles than other population groups,” from today’s news.

Oh dear, shall we burn a few shops and topple some statues?!

A delayed hue and cry is jumping on someone else’s bandwagon. With greater travesties and global disasters and a burgeoning population, there is not the time nor resources to re-examine historic slights and indignities only raised long after their occurrence.

It is time that the statute of limitations was reinforced, otherwise we will still be dealing with historic complaints 75 years after the fact, like a recent SS guard or executing offenders now for crimes committed last century – or is revenge a dish best eaten (very) cold?